Finmeccanica Trumpets Honolulu Rail Deal
Lingle Best Positioned for Victory Next Year
Lingle calls for Delay in Federal Grab for Control of Hawaii Shorelines
IBEW to Vote on New Offer from Hawaiian Tel
Nominations Sought for State Water Commission
Inouye Claims Honolulu Rail Will Get Federal Transit Funding Next Year
HNN: Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced Tuesday that the Honolulu Rail Transit Project will be eligible to share in an allocation of $510 million in federal funds in 2012. (Actually in line for $125M.)
Funding for the rail is just one of several Hawaii projects receiving funding next fiscal year after President Barack Obama signed the Conference Report on H.R. 2112…
"Hawaii must continue moving forward to secure available federal funding for the rail project. (Hence the contract with Ansaldo) We need to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to create jobs and improve transportation," Sen. Akaka said. (And what does ‘move ahead’ consist of?)
read … Creating the illusion of inevitability
Kobayashi: Hold on to Your Wallet
Hold on to your wallet.
That was the advice from Honolulu City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi after she was asked about the 9.65 percent annual water use rate increase authorized by the Board of Water Supply yesterday, which totals about 70 percent over the next 5 years….
About 7 years ago, the Honolulu City Council and mayor increased the cost of sewer fees by 25 percent, and since it has increased between 5 and 10 percent for every year that followed, Kobayashi said.
Those fee increases over the last several years were accompanied by a substantial rise in car registration fees on the county and state levels as well as property taxes hikes for both residential and businesses land owners….
The entire project is slated to cost $5.3 billion, with $1.5 billion promised by U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Hawaii's senior senator, who also serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The rest of the construction and operation and maintenance costs will come from local taxpayers….
But the city has put the project on a fast track. The only thing that may derail the rail at this point is a lawsuit pending in federal court ….
read … Taxes, Fees
Slom: Rail Roaded
Rail Roaded. Today, at 10 am, in Honolulu Federal District Court, there will be a hearing on the standing of the seven plaintiffs-including the SBH Foundation-in the suit against the City of Honolulu regarding the $6 billion-plus train to nowhere elevated heavy rail project. The hearing on the merits of the project is scheduled for February.
Ciao, Ansaldo. The Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART) committee met Monday and approved a $1.4 billion contract for construction of the City Rail Transit project with the Ansaldo corporation, despite the firm's checkered past and questionable finances. The HART members should be compelled to give their personal financial guarantee on this boondoggle. Not to worry, however, since the Italian government will back Ansaldo 100%. YIKES!
Rail Debate. Councilman Tom Berg sought to put together a public debate on the rail issue for the benefit of the public. It will be next Tuesday, 6 pm at City Hall (Mission Auditorium). The government supporters of government rail refuse to appear. Come join us anyway.
read … Slom
State to Teachers: Drop Your Complaint and Strike
CB: A legal battle between the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state has dragged on for five months, and yet the end is nowhere on even the most distant horizon.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the state got so fed up he told the union's attorney that teachers should drop their complaint and strike, already.
It was the first time the state has publicly told the union to go on strike to try to resolve the dispute….
HSTA President Wil Okabe told Civil Beat then that he and his colleagues don't want to withdraw their case. They feel that they're in the right, that the governor violated collective bargaining rights. And if a ruling from the labor board won't uphold their point of view, maybe a ruling on an appeal to the circuit court will.
read … Favored Nation pt 2?
Utility bills may sink Hawaii’s economy
DN: … “green energy” has become a bubble, not unlike the run-up to the real estate collapse here and in other countries. Every aspect of it attracts investment. Worldwide, companies hope to cash in on it. Certainly, that’s what’s driving Big Wind.
The proposition that huge tracts of Neighbor Island land should be sacrificed to supply Oahu’s insatiable need for electricity, and that a lossy and expensive undersea cable is the way to deliver it, can be viewed as part of that bubble. In other words, there is big money to be made by someone in that deal. But who will pay the cost? Of course, you and I.
Big Wind will mean rate increases on Oahu. At the same time, as noted in the comments to yesterday’s article, small energy producers are not wanted. You and I are cut out of the deal. We are supposed to consume, not generate, energy….
read … Utility bills may sink Hawaii’s economy
Good News! Time Running Out For Hawaii Mafia Wind Farm Grant
Hawaii residents could be paying tens of millions of dollars in higher electric rates over the next 25 years if state regulators
don't DO approve a contract for a wind farm on Oahu’s north shore in time for developers to take advantage of a lucrative federal grant.
The contract between Boston-based First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Co. must be approved by Dec. 15, according to the developer and HECO. (Two weeks! Let’s throw a party!)
The grant would cover 30 percent of the project's costs. Without it, the higher cost of the wind farm would translate into (abandonment of the project, which will save Oahu ratepayers millions)
higher electricity prices for Oahu residents who are already paying rates triple the national average.
Reality: Hawaii Wind Developer tied to Largest-ever asset seizure by anti-Mafia police
read … Just Keep Stalling, Time is Our Friend!
15,000 Military Go Unrepresented in Any State Elections Because of Redistricting Controversy
HR: …in 1992, the voters of Hawaii approved a state constitutional amendment excluding certain military personnel when counting for reapportionment purposes only. The specific issue is the definition of “permanent residence.”
Commissioners met behind closed doors before taking another vote in September, which ended in a 5-3 decision to compromise and remove a portion of the non resident military, or 15,000 people.
Two lawsuits followed in October, with the second lawsuit filed by Kona attorney Michael Matsukawa.
The cases are pending in the Hawaii Supreme Court. Justices could hear oral arguments or simply rule on filings alone. A spokeswoman for the Judiciary said the Supreme Court's deliberations and timeline are confidential.
Complicating matters, the commission's chair, retired Judge Victoria Marks, was appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court when the commission's 8 appointed members could not agree on a chair, and with 21 years of judicial experience, she wrote the response brief herself; and Democrat Governor Neil Abercrombie, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit with the commissioners, is siding with Big Island Democrats….
State Reapportionment Advisory Commission Chair for Oahu, Mike Palcic, said he is disappointed at how the commission has handled the redistricting issue. His advisory commission had voted unanimously in favor of including all non resident military in the count. Other observers felt it is disrespectful not to include the military and their families as is the federal government's practice….
A separate city reapportionment commission redrew the lines for the City & County of Honolulu’s 9 council districts and included all of Oahu's population including non residential military without incident….
read … 15,000
Supporters are urged to wear black for National Meth Awareness Day
National Meth Awareness Day plays an important role in highlighting the nationwide effort to increase awareness and decrease demand of this highly addictive and dangerous drug.
Governor Abercrombie recently issued an official proclamation recognizing November 30th as National Meth Awareness Day in Hawaii.
read … Meth Awareness
Honolulu Clears Homeless from Stadium Park, Three More Accept Shelter
CB: Honolulu police and city workers arrived on schedule Tuesday night to usher more than a dozen homeless from their sidewalk encampment between King Street and Stadium Park.
As eight police officers urged homeless to move their remaining things, about 15 city workers threw away what the homeless had left behind. They also cleared away trash from nearby Moiliili Park….
But the homeless didn't have to go far. With police approval, most carted their tents, baby carriages, blankets and other things to the opposite side of the street.
From there, the homeless looked on as city workers and volunteers pushed their remaining things into the street, hauled them into a dump truck with a backhoe and power washed the sidewalk.
In the past, the city has removed homeless from sidewalks in daylight. But the city planned this sweep for 8 p.m. so that homeless couldn't seek refuge on park grounds, which close at 10 p.m., Chun said.
…three homeless had already taken a shuttle to Institute for Human Services shelters….
CB: Homeless at Stadium Park Plan Next Moves
read … Stadium
Patients counting on Hawaii’s Only transplant clinic to stay open
The Hawaii Medical Center bankruptcy has much more than a financial impact. The East clinic in Liliha has the state's only transplant center and losing it would change people's lives.
An organ transplant is certainly not an outpatient procedure. It requires weeks of care before and after the operation and people that have had it say it's priceless having it here in Hawaii….
Nanamori says if the transplant clinic wasn't in Hawaii he would have had to move to the mainland because once you get the call a donor is found you need to be on the operating table within about five hours….
Typically the transplant clinic performs between 70 to 100 operations a year.
Right now there are 424 people in Hawaii waiting on an organ transplant, 396 need a kidney. What happens with Hawaii Medical Center's Transplant Clinic is truly life changing….
If the Hawaii Medical Center East closed another hospital could try to get certified for organ transplants. However it's a long, federal process. The application is about 200 pages and can take up to six months to be approved.
read … Transplant
Queens Nurses Approve Three-Year Raise
At a time when other union members are facing pay cuts, furloughs and losing benefits, registered nurses at Queen’s Medical Center, Hawaii's largest hospital, approved a contract Monday night with three years’ worth of raises.
Leaders of the Hawaii Nurses’ Association, the union representing 1,200 registered nurses at Queens, said its members “overwhelmingly ratified” the contract during two days of voting….
Salaries for full-time registered nurses at Queens currently start at about $60,000 a year, nurses said….
Meanwhile, some poor misbegotten nurses are stuck with sorry representation from the HGEA. Time to decertify and switch to HNA: VIDEO: Abercrombie squares off with Maui Nurses
read … Nurses
Real and Affordable Green or Misguided Dream?
Panos: Bjørn Lomborg is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School. I trust his analyses much more than the "data free" propaganda of the Sierra Club and the Blue Plant Foundation of Hawaii.
Here is a summary in his words of his latest assessment titled Seeming Green…
read … Seeming Green
State taxpayers may have to foot cost of returning 350 new guns
Nearly two months after Hawaii News Now broke the story about a controversial gun deal involving Hawaii's sheriffs, 350 new nine-millimeter pistols and matching holsters are still sitting in storage while state public safety officials try to figure out how to send them back to Smith & Wesson.
"It's my understanding that the public safety department is still negotiating with the company in terms of who will be paying for the shipping of the guns," Sen. Will Espero, Senate public safety committee chair, said.
Smith &Wesson delivered the equipment in October 2010 -- more than a year ago. Under the trade agreement, sheriffs would receive a package that normally goes for $185,500 in exchange for their old guns and some excess inventory.
The offer was made under then-public safety director Clayton Frank. The new administration said two months ago that it wants to return the goods because state procurement laws may have been violated.
read … More Funny Business in Sheriff’s Office
HPD Major's Drug-Dealing Girlfriend To Testify
After Nishimura was indicted in February on extortion charges, and while he was on leave-with-full-pay status at HPD, he resumed a sexual relationship with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, convicted drug trafficker Doni Mei Imose, Nishimura’s lawyer said.
Nishimura was supposed to have no contact with Imose because she was a prosecution witness against him the extortion case. But Imose contacted Nishimura, gave him a cell phone so they could secretly communicate with each other and then began having sex with him at his Waianae home, prosecution and defense lawyers said.
Imose told Nishimura that she had lied to the grand jury and wanted to help him clear his name, according to Federal Public Defender Peter Wolff, Nishimura’s lawyer.
HNN: Bail hearing for HPD major accused of extortion, drug offenses continued
read … Major Player?
Maui Police Officer Arrested For Spousal Abuse
Bail was set at $1,000. Kealoha posted bail and is expected to appear in Family Court next month.
Kealoha is currently on leave and the case has been forwarded to the Prosecutor's Office.
read … Maui PD
Cancel the Second Digester?
CB: The sewage sludge fight flared up this summer. Mayor Peter Carlisle and the Honolulu City Council traded barbs over who was responsible for the funding decisions that left the Sand Island treatment plant over capacity, forcing the city to truck raw sewage around the island.
Some Council members have concerns about the company, Synagro, that's currently turning it into fertilizer pellets. The battle quieted down for a spell, while the administration conducted research on alternate technologies to treat the sewage.
But the Council isn't satisfied with the current course of action, and is demanding a change — immediately.
In a Nov. 18 letter sent to Carlisle, Chair Ernie Martin as well as Ann Kobayashi and longtime Synagro criticRomy Cachola urged the immediate termination or suspension of the contract to plan and design a second digester.
read … Sludge
Maui Charter Commission tables district voting
The Maui County Charter Commission on Monday rejected proposals to change the way County Council members are elected, saying the current system was the only option that guaranteed smaller districts would be represented. The vote means none of the proposals will move forward for possible inclusion on the 2012 general election ballot.
Also Monday, the commission voted to advance a proposal that would add "sustainability" to the purview of the Department of Environmental Management. Commissioners also moved forward a proposal that would require candidates to live within their residency district for one year before running for a Maui County Council seat. But proposals to reduce the number of petition signatures required for ballot initiatives, recall or charter amendments failed.
The commission's next step will be to seek comments from the public on more than 20 possible charter amendments that are still under consideration. A series of hearings on the proposals will be held around the county starting next month. The commission will ultimately decide which proposals go on the 2012 general election ballot for a popular vote.
read … District Voting
Maui: Couch seeks cap on vacation rentals
Maui County Council Planning Committee Chairman Don Couch wanted to begin discussion Monday of a proposed limit on the number of vacation rentals on Maui. But he ran out of time and lost a quorum of committee members after more than two hours of public testimony.
Much of the testimony came from Maui Meadows residents who told council members they don't want their neighborhood overwhelmed by vacation rental businesses, with sometimes unruly visitors who hold loud parties late into the night….
The proposed cap of 400 vacation rental operations is significantly lower than the 1,100 to 1,500 unpermitted vacation rentals believed to be in operation, according to Maui Vacation Rental Association estimates, Couch said.
read … Vacation Rentals
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative gets green light for smart meters
HAWAII'S KAUAI ISLAND UTILITY COOPERATIVE (KIUC) received the green light from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission at the end of September for its part in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's (NRECA's) Cooperative Research Network (CRN) smart grid demonstration project.
The KIUC project, which will span five years, will see the installation of about 33,000 smart meters, a wireless mesh network system, a meter data management system, and smart meter thermostats and in-home energy displays along with ZigBee modules and software to enable consumers to view their energy usage.
The project's total cost is $11,964,004, half of which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy/NRECA grant.
Related: Where is the EIS for Smart Metering?
read … Smart Meters
Hawaii Co 'Bag ban' vote expected Dec 21
Having heard from communities around the island, the County Council is moving closer to deciding whether to prohibit businesses from giving plastic shopping bags to their customers.
A bill outlawing the practice was up for final approval in March, but three lawmakers blocked that vote by demanding regional hearings be held to gather more public input.
The final of six hearings on Bill 17, Draft 2, was held Nov. 15 in Kona….
But one more supportive council vote -- the first was 5-3 -- is needed before the bill may be sent to Mayor Billy Kenoi for his consideration.
That vote likely will occur during the council's Dec. 21 meeting at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kealakehe, said council Chairman Dominic Yagong of Hamakua.
read … Bag ban
TRO halts construction at Kawaiahao Church
KHON: Construction remains on hold for now on a multi-purpose building on the Kawaiahao Church grounds.
A temporary restraining order is in effect until a judge makes a final ruling on Friday….
KITV: Paulette Kaleikini Claims Family Members' Graves Being Disrupted By Construction
read … Kawaiahao Church
Jon Van Dyke Dies in Australia
related: Supreme Court ruling shields Hawaiian Homelands and ceded lands revenue